COLUMBUS- Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) called on the House and Senate to pass reforms to deal with Ohio’s troubled charter schools.  Two recent incidents prompted the legislators to again call for public hearings on an issue the General Assembly has largely ignored.

This week VLT Academy in Cincinnati closed abruptly because of financial and academic problems.  The closing left hundreds of students without a school just as classes were set to begin.  And just last month the Ohio Department of Education launched an investigation of Horizon Science Academy in Dayton after teachers reported possible child abuse and manipulation of test scores and attendance records.  The FBI is also investigating the organization that runs Horizon charter schools across the state. 

“With students across the state heading back to school this week there is no more time to waste,” said Senator Schiavoni.  “Our current laws are too weak to protect our school children and tax dollars. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.”

Senator Schiavoni has introduced two bills in this General Assembly to strengthen the oversight of charter schools.  Senate Bills 190 and 329 would require charter schools and their sponsors and operators to undergo annual audits and to follow the same public records laws as traditional public schools.  The Senate Education Committee has not held a single hearing on the bills despite almost weekly reports this summer of failing charter schools across the state. 

“As our tax dollars continue to flow to more failing charter schools, the legislature has a responsibility to parents and students to get serious about putting our kids’ value and achievement above the status quo,” said Rep. Driehaus.  “Ohio’s charter school laws are out of date, leaving some of the worst performing charter schools running for up to five years before the state can close them. It is time to take action. Our businesses, schools, teachers—and most importantly, our children—deserve better.” 

Last month Senator Schiavoni and State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) sent letters to the chairmen of the House and Senate Education committees calling for hearings this summer on charter school reforms.  Neither letter has received a response.

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